Wild Thing, by The Troggs

Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you what may be the finest, most energetic, creative, passionate and sophisticated song in the modern era of rock and roll music.

I give you “Wild Thing” by The Troggs.

“Wild thing
You make my heart sing
You make everything groovy

Wild thing

Wild thing, I think I love you
But I wanna know for sure
Come on and hold me tight
I love you

Wild thing

You make my heart sing
You make everything groovy

Wild thing

Wild thing, I think you move me
But I wanna know for sure
Come on and hold me tight
You move me

Wild thing

You make my heart sing
You make everything groovy

Wild thing

Wild thing
You make my heart sing”

A bold statement? Perhaps.

You say that I’m in above my head? You may be right.

I’m just being crazy and sensational? Not a chance.

“Wild Thing” was written by Chip Taylor, and originally released by the Wild Ones. Their version is fine, but it lacks the power and ferocity of the cover version that be released by The Troggs only six months later.

The version released by The Troggs in April, 1966 is a summation of all rock and roll that came before it, and a blueprint for all that would come after. There is a single fuzzy, buzzy guitar banging out the rhythm while lead singer Reg Presley belts out the scratchy lyrics, such as they are. The drum is keeping time with the bass and the guitar on the simplest of all melodies.

This power pop explosion of misogyny and confusion is exceedingly simple, but we are enticed by the rhythm, by the pounding of the drum, and the long pauses as we wait to hear what comes after the words “I love you.”

“Wild Thing” is a part of the continuum, a link in the chain that cannot be repacked. Elvis Presley had already gyrated his hips on national television. Chuck Berry had broken through the color barrier as he “duck-walked” across the stage playing his tight, wiry guitar licks. Buddy Holly had hiccuped his way through Ed Sullivan and skating rink and backyard barn shows. The Beatles had taken American by storm.

And then came The Troggs. An unknown, mangy unkempt group of angry musicians from England that took all that passion, all that sex and artistry and creative vision and threw it at the wall and came away with “Wild Thing.”

It’s not all blood and guts. Although the guitars, bass and drums play a simple song, the bridge is filled in not by a guitar solo, and not by saxophone, but rather by an ocarina, a small hand-held clay flute from South America. Nobody quite knew what that sound was, but likely they didn’t care. This song rocked.

In a way, that small clay instrument opened the door for bands to explore how different instruments might be included in main stream rock and roll songs. The Theremin on “Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys. The Sitar on “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles. Rock and roll did not need to be one group of instruments, making the same sound over and over again.

In a way, the heavy guitars that The Troggs brought to “Wild Thing” paved the way for heavy metal music, for punk music and even for grunge. The music could be loud and messy, and the echoes of this simple band of three instruments and a vocalist reverberate loudly even today.

The Troggs showed that anyone can make music. Three chords. A guitar, a bass and a drum. Someone who can yell into a microphone. Let’s set up in my dad’s garage, let’s get someone to play the bass. The sophistication comes through the passion and energy. You don’t need money, you don’t need an eduction. You only need passion and hunger.

“Wild Thing” by The Troggs is rock and roll. Hunger brought the volume. Hunger brought the creativity. Anger brought the power. It all happened from there.

“Wild Thing”
Written by Chip Taylor
Performed by The Troggs
Released April 22, 1966

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